20 Signs Of Serious Sexual Tension — And What To Do About It

Photo: Joshua Resnick /
couple with lots of sexual tension flirts on the street, sun flare behind them

Sexual tension can be hard to fully explain, but when you feel it, you know it. It’s not a “real” connection per se, since there’s usually no emotional basis for the way you end up feeling.

Sexual tension isn't inherently good or bad. Human beings have urges and it's healthy to explore those feelings. But exploring your feelings and acting on them are two very different things.

According to spiritual life coach Keya Murthy, "If you feel any sexual tension and feel uncomfortable in it then it is a bad thing. But if you feel the sexual tension and feel good in it, because it is leading towards something, then it is a very good thing."

What is sexual tension?

According to Wikipedia, sexual tension is defined as "a social phenomenon that occurs when two individuals interact and one or both feel sexual desire, but the consummation is postponed or never happens."

Sexual tension doesn't have to come from purposefully delaying your hookup, and it doesn't mean your physical relationship will never happen.

But the tension is definitely amped-up by all the time you spend wishing, hoping, and thinking about getting closer to that person. You know you're sexually attracted to them, and it seems they may feel the same way.

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Having sexual tension with a person might mean you'd have mind-blowing, earth-shattering sex if you act on it. It’s a sign that there’s something animalistic about the two of you together, and that your bodies are compatible on an instinctual level. It’s raw. It’s sexy. It’s a downright wild connection.

That said, it often makes us feel like bumbling fools, leading to losing track of what you were saying and awkward conversation.

Sexual tension can be built by spending time with someone you're attracted to without having sex. After a long build-up, the sex may feel disappointing, so it's important to maintain realistic expectations regarding the final consummation of that relationship.

It's key to be smart in how you handle your sexual tension with somebody, especially when you first start dating, as it's easy to confuse sexual tension for real compatibility.

20 Signs of Sexual Tension

1. You both pause for a while, just to look into one another’s eyes.

Eye contact tends to be a sign of an emotional connection, but it’s also a sign of a seriously sexually tense situation. If you find yourself gazing into a certain someone’s eyes for a bit longer than normal, especially when there’s a pause and reciprocation, it could be sexual tension to blame.

2. Both of you tend to catch each other sneaking glances.

This is often done when both parties are shy and don’t have the courage to talk to one another. It’s that “mutually stolen glance dance” that tends to suggest you both want to do the dirty with one another.

3. When the two of you talk, it gets awkward.

Awkward doesn’t necessarily equate to sexual tension, but sexual tension often causes a little bit of awkwardness in its midst, especially with shy guys.

You both are basically struggling with the urge to tear each other’s clothes off, or the urge to not panic around a crush.

4. It feels like high school all over again.

Remember how you used to feel a thrill every time your crush would flirt with you when you were in high school?

If you find yourself getting butterflies in the stomach around them and they're chatting you up like a high school footballer trying to date the head cheerleader, it’s probably one of the signs of sexual tension that’s run amok.

5. You get distracted — a lot.

You catch them gazing at your chest. They caught you checking out their behind. Need I say any more?

6. His voice gives you goosebumps.

This is a purely animalistic, biological sign of attraction. The more you draw out the flirtation and sexual tension, the greater the effect can become.

7. If you were honest, you’ve fantasized about a certain person... hard.

Sexual tension isn’t always a two-way street. If you regularly find yourself having sexual fantasies about a person, you might have a serious, one-sided sexual tension vibe going on with a certain person.

Of course, they might be into you, too, but there’s not much to know that unless they actually do something to give you that idea.

8. There are times where you really, really feel like he’s hoping you’ll kiss him.

You know how, sometimes, there are pauses that make you feel like you should just start making out with someone? You know that look guys get when they want a girl to start fooling around with them?

If you’re noticing that, and you kind of have the same vibe coming from you, you’ve got serious sexual tension with someone.

9. It always feels like he has something he wants to say to you, but you don’t know what, and you often want to tell him he’s hot, but don’t.

And you don’t get the feeling he wants to tell you something negative, either.

More often than not, this is a sign of sexual tension that’s getting close to its boiling point.

10. There’s this vibe in the air between you two that you can’t quite put into words.

It’s really, really easy to pick up on a sexually tense vibe. It’s electric. Just saying.

11. The body language you two show says everything.

Intense eye contact, lip biting, hand around the belt — you know the deal. The body language is there, you’re just not acting on it.

12. Every conversation seems to have a flirty context.

“Oh, you’re making me blush.”

“I mean, uhm, I didn’t mean it that way... but hehe, yeah, I guess.”

13. He seems to stand taller around you (or you notice yourself standing taller around them).

When a guy connects with someone in a pure, animalistic way, he tends to stand taller and takes almost a protective role around the woman he likes. If you find yourself looking up at him or cocking your head more than usual, you are probably responding with your own body language in a way that encourages your sexual chemistry.

14. You touch each other casually — a lot.

Bumping into each other when you're walking or resting your arm on theirs when you're sitting next to each other are great examples of subtle touching that build tension and chemistry. If a man puts his hand on your lower back when you're walking through doorways... these are all signs that you're developing a serious sexual tension.

15. You feel a serious spark when you touch.

If you brush arms accidentally or touch each other often in a friendly way, you might feel a spark of electricity run up your arm. If you catch each other's eye when this happens, you can guarantee that there's serious sexual tension happening.

16. You two text or Snap each other for no good reason.

It makes you smile to see each other's names on the screen.

17. You feel physically drawn to him, and he seems to always find his way to you.

If it feels like there's an invisible rope that pulls you two together in any room (especially in group settings), that's sexual tension at work.

18. They linger at the end of conversations with you.

If it seems like they don't want your conversations to end, it's probably because you two have some serious chemistry going.

19. Others have remarked on the chemistry you two have.

Usually, it’s people who poke fun at how much you both should just have sex and get it over with. Sound familiar? If so, you've got chemistry going on.

20. Your significant other, or other men or women, get jealous.

When this happens, you know there’s serious sexual chemistry afoot. If you’re in a relationship, you may want to openly discuss what’s going on or pause to figure out what you want.

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What to Do When you Have Sexual Tension With a Coworker

A large portion of married couples originally met at work, and yet workplace romances can be a complete disaster and can even end up harming your career.

"If you feel good about it, then it is a good thing and if you are not feeling good about it, then it is not. Go with your heart," Murthy reiterates her earlier point.

Developing sexual tension with a colleague can sometimes be fun. Work can be boring and there's no better motivator for getting out of bed in the morning than a guy who makes your heart do little flip-flops.

As Melanie Curtain explains in Inc. Magazine, "The fact is, dating at work is a risk. It's an emotional risk to you, and it's also a risk to the company. Yet it happens all the time. Constantly. There's no way for human beings to work around one another and attraction to not happen." Curtain also notes that relationships that start at work are often the most successful.

Murthy also suggests, "if your company has a law that prohibits marrying another person at work, then it is not a good thing. Either work on your sexual tension or find work somewhere else."

Relationship coach Keith Dent says, "Sexual tension especially at work could be bad because it may cause a person to cross the line unexpectedly creating tension at work leading to a difficult workplace. If one, or both parties feel there is some sexual tension, it's best that it be brought out in the open, and two know your employee handbook on relationships in the office. Knowledge is power."

Here are a few signs of sexual tension between coworkers:

1. You seem to catch each other's eye any time you enter a room.

2. You stumble over words whenever the other person is around.

3. You laugh at each other's jokes more than other people in the room and share a lot of inside jokes.

4. You feel yourself moving closer to your coworker and feel drawn to sit near them in meetings.

5. You sometimes playfully bump into each other or touch in a non-sexual way in ways you don't with other colleagues.

6. You talk about your lives, ask each other questions, and generally chat about non-work things.

7. When you're in a group, the two of you tend to talk to one another more than anyone else and sometimes it feels like everyone else just disappears.

8. Other people ask whether you two are dating, or ask when you'll start dating.

Sharing sexual tension with a coworker can fun, but you need to think before you act and make sure you're still doing your best work possible.

There are certain situations when you should do everything you can to avoid adding to the sexual tension between yourself and a colleague.

1. You or your coworker are married or in a committed relationship.

2. You are the boss or supervisor of the person you're growing attracted to.

3. You have sexual tension with your boss.

4. The person you are attracted to has a history of sexual harassment or is known around your workplace for their hookups or for treating women badly.

Of course, a relationship with a boss and someone who works under them doesn't always equal sexual harassment, but it's important you talk to someone in HR, if possible if something more than simple flirtation happens between the two of you. This is a rule in many workplaces, but even if it's not a rule in yours, it's a good practice. That way you can be sure that the imbalance of power doesn't become a tool for exploitation.

Another common (and complicated!) place for happy couples to meet is in their friend groups. Some of the most successful romantic relationships started out as just friends and then grew into something more passionate.

But sexual tension between friends can be tricky, too. You don't want to mess up a great group dynamic by creating drama and there's always the risk that if you and your friend start flirting or hooking up that your original friendship could suffer if it doesn't work out or if the FWB arrangement becomes more complicated.

It can be hard to tell the difference between someone being an attentive friend and a friend who wants to be more than friends, but there are definite signs. Consider these before flirting more or moving forward.

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Signs of Sexual Tension Between Friends

1. You're texting or snapping each other more than you have in the past.

2. You get a little tingle or rush when you see their name pop up on your phone.

3. When you're in a group, you find yourselves talking mostly to each other.

4. When you're talking to them in a group, you tend to move away from the others.

5. You find yourselves standing closer together than before.

6. You catch each other's eye often, and sometimes stumble over words when you do.

Sexual tension between friends can be confusing, but it can also be great.

As far as general signs that chemistry is developing between you an someone else — including a friend or coworker — there few of the most noteworthy signs that you two might be on your way to a seriously hot romantic relationship.

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If you find yourself relating to the signs mentioned above, you're probably wondering what to do about it. The key to knowing what steps to take next is figuring out whether the person you have sexual tension with feels the same way.

How to Determine if Sexual Tension is Mutual

First, be brutally honest with yourself and assess whether they've been reciprocating many or most of the signs above.

Does he really text you more than he used to or is he just replying to what you text him? Is he awkward when you two talk, or is it mostly just you? Does his body language reflect that he is interested or is it mostly yours? Try to be objective.

Second, ask yourself whether they're like that with lots of people — or is it just you?

You may have very real sexual tension with someone, but if he is doing the same things with lots of other people, it may be that he's a player who knows how to amp up the tension for his own gain. He may also just be a flirt!

Third, ask a trusted friend for their opinion.

Talk all of this over with a good friend. This works even better if your friend knows both of you well or has seen your sexual tension in action. Do they see what you see or is it mostly wishful thinking?

Finally, try taking things a step further to see if they reciprocate.

This one is risky, but if you've gotten through the first three steps and it seems like the sexual tension is mutual, try moving a bit further. If normally you might place your hand on his arm, try leaning your head on his shoulder or holding his hand for a second. Does he move away or does he lean into it?

If normally you text a few times a day, try FaceTiming him. Does he pick up? Does she look right in the camera and show you his face? If so, he's reciprocating!

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How to Deal With Sexual Tension

Once you've determined that your sexual tension situation is real, you need to figure out how to deal with it. What you should do clearly varies depending upon whether you want the sexual tension to progress or not.

If there is potential there for something fulfilling and healthy for you both, there are ways to make the most of the tension between you.

Here are the next steps for turning sexual tension into a real, romantic connection.

Determine what you want.

Ask yourself if you really want to turn your sexual tension into a full-blown relationship or even a hookup or friends with benefits situation. Figure out what you want and what is practical. Would hooking up or dating be better than just the fun, flirty chemistry you have going now? Be honest!

Think about what really connects the two of you.

When you're feeling that intense sexual tension, what is the catalyst? Is it witty banter, physical connection, making each other laugh, or something else?

Do more of what already works!

Amp it up and see how you both respond. Are they reciprocating? Are they backing away? Does it feel weird to you or good? If it seems like the intensity is building and you're just getting closer and closer to connecting, then you're on a great path.

Talk and connect.

Sometimes we talk about our feelings to the point where the "magic" is lost, but there are ways to talk about where things are going and what you want that is cute, sexy, and flirty.

Just keep it short and playful. Imagine yourself in a RomCom and think about how a movie character would tell someone they like them or that they've been dying to kiss them.

Look in his eyes, be honest, and smile. After all that time building your sexual tension, you might be just moments away from the greatest physical connection of your life.

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On the other hand, there are times when sexual tension isn't healthy and needs to be nipped in the bud.

if you're having sexual tension with your friend's husband, for example, nothing good will come from allowing the tension to grow. We have more control over how we feel and act than we often believe. You do have the ability to calm sexual tension and stop crushing on someone, when you need to.

Here are a few things you can do to end or minimize sexual tension that isn't healthy for you.

The best thing to do is avoid the person. If you can't avoid the person, then do everything you can to stop feeding into the sexual tension. Stop flirting, stop looking in his eyes, stop texting.

Actively redirect your thoughts when they wander toward sexy or romantic thoughts. For instance, you might think about the person who could get hurt if you continue feeding that sexual tension and force yourself to linger on the sensation of guilt or the sadness at the loss of a friendship or a relationship.

Talk directly to the person you have sexual tension with and make an agreement to knock it off and focus on why it's important that you stop flirting.

If you're in the opposite position, and the chemistry you're feeling is a good thing that could become a truly great thing, then it's time to move forward!

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a Jack-of-all-trades writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she's drinking red wine and chilling with some cool cats. Follow her on Twitter.